Since it was first launched way back in 1996, the Mazda 2 -- known as the Demio in Japan -- has sold more than 2.4 million units worldwide, although the car didn't reach the U.S. market until 2011. Today, the all-new, fourth-generation 2016 Mazda 2 began production at a plant in Hofu, Japan. The car goes on sale in its home market this fall and will reach the U.S. in 2015.
The 2016 Mazda 2 is the first version of the small hatchback to be built entirely with Mazda's Skyactiv engine and chassis technologies, which aim to improve fuel efficiency by reducing friction and weight. It's also the first Mazda 2 to adhere to the Kodo-Soul of Motion design language used on almost all of the company's other cars, including the current 3, 6, and CX-5.
As a result, the 2016 Mazda 2 looks remarkably similar to its big brother, the All-Star-winning Mazda 3. It also hews closely to the Hazumi concept that previewed the new 2. A wide polygonal grille defines the car's nose, with chrome spears leading into the swept-back headlights that rise over the car's front fenders. Subtle creases run along the lower edge of the doors, while the roofline takes the same dive toward the liftgate as was seen on the old Mazda 2. With a subtle roof spoiler, pinched taillights, and a curved crease just below the rear windshield, the back of the 2016 Mazda 2 resembles the old car, too, but with hints of the modern Kodo styling motif.
So too for the interior, which adopts the smart, modern look of the Mazda 3, CX-5, and 6. A horizontal dashboard design is marked primarily by a vertical touchscreen infotainment display, and a trio of climate-control knobs on the center stack. A rotary controller for the infotainment system sits on the center console, close the driver's leg, while the instrument cluster consists of a large central analog tachometer flanked by a pair of digital displays.
Mazda has released very few details about the mechanical components of the new 2, but in Japan the car will use a new 1.5-liter turbodiesel, called Skyactiv-D 1.5, as well as a 1.3- and a 1.5-liter gas engine, called Skyactiv-G 1.3 and Skyactiv-G 1.5, respectively. It's likely only the larger gasoline engine will be used in the U.S., but it seems unlikely the diesel will arrive given the delays Mazda has faced in certifying the Mazda 6 diesel for American consumption. The 2016 Mazda 2 is also said to have more safety technologies than the current car, likely including things like blind-spot warning and forward-collision warning.
After the 2016 Mazda 2 launches in Japan this fall, look for it to reach the U.S. market some time next year. Following that, there's a possibility we'll see it again in a different form: reports suggest the next-generation U.S.-market Toyota Yaris will be twinned with the 2, and that both models will be produced at Mazda's plant in Salamanca, Mexico.
More specifics on the U.S.-market 2016 Mazda 2 should arrive later this year or early in 2015.